Local residents are invited to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation at Davis’ Juneteenth festivities from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Veterans’ Memorial Center, 203 E. 14th St. Admission is free.
Juneteenth, which is short for June 19th, is a remembrance of that particular date in 1865. On that day, 2,000 Union soldiers arrived at Galveston, Texas, intent on enforcing the abolition of slavery.
It had been more than two years since President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The day is a celebration of the bonds of slavery officially being broken for more than 3.5 million people.
Event coordinator Sandy Holman, founder of Davis’ Culture Co-op, said it’s a moment in history that’s worth getting together for — no matter your ethnicity or background.
“It’s about people coming together to celebrate another Independence Day that’s not always as well-known,” she said. “We’re trying to keep it alive in Yolo County’s active community.”
Activities Saturday also will take place at the adjacent Stephens Branch Library, 315 E. 14th St., coordinated by librarian Jay Johnstone.
The celebration will get underway with a potluck that consists of traditional soul food. For those who arrive later, offerings of Southern-style barbecue will be on the menu, courtesy of a local vendor.
The festivities includes the funk, jazz and soul music of local bands (Bayonnes Big Bang, Calvin Handy, Al Zaid and more); arts-and-crafts vendors; children’s educational activities, such as letting kids try their hands at quilt-making; a tribute to recently deceased local leaders; an appearance by Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza; a book raffle giveaway; and a “Hats Off to the Ancestors” hat fashion show.
Diane Evans, a civil rights advocate, will talk about the mass migration out of Africa, and members of the Tuskegee Airmen — a group of African-American pilots who fought in World War II — will be present, dressed in their military regalia.
“It’s really exciting for the kids to see that,” Holman said, “They’re walking history. And, unfortunately, a lot of the Tuskegee Airmen — and others entrenched in that history — are dying off.”
Holman’s primary goal in organizing the festivities is simply having people attend, and learn about Juneteenth. Her outlook on it is that there’s plenty of merriment to be experienced for anyone.
“I describe it as a cozy — but we’ll see if I get surprised (Saturday) — and family-friendly event,” she said. “Even if you don’t know the people there, everyone is so easy to get along with and is having such a good time.
“We have black people, white people, Latinos; it’s a nice mix. … This is not just an important holiday to remember a piece of African-American history — it’s everyone’s history.”
— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett